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Building an Innovation and Knowledge Economy

ArabNet Team, Dec 04 2017

Smart Cities represent a $1.5Tn market opportunity, according to Forbes, with 26 smart cities expected to be built by 2025. While half of these cities will be in Europe and the US, MENA countries such as the UAE and KSA are trying to catch up with this global trend. This past year has witnessed bold leadership and direction in KSA in achieving growth in non-oil sectors and stimulating the economy under the National Transformation Program 2020, of which smart cities is a vital constituent.

In October, the Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, announced plans to build a $500B mega smart city project called ‘NEOM’ which will span 10,230 square miles on the Red Sea coast, connect to Jordan and Egypt, and be powered completely by renewable energy. The city aims to provide abundant opportunities for employment and investments within Saudi Arabia, attract local and foreign currency back into the country, and be at the forefront of nine economic sectors including energy and water, biotech, advanced manufacturing and food. 

Digital Transformation1

A key component of smart cities is smart transportation systems. The Hyperloop is a futuristic mode of transportation introduced by Elon Musk that aims to revolutionize mass transit as a high-speed, high-efficiency, and safe alternative to public transportation while reducing environmental damage. Last year, Hyperloop One, an American company that is working to commercialize the Hyperloop, announced a partnership with the RTA in Dubai to develop a possible passenger system connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

This year’s Digital Transformation Forum at ArabNet Riyadh will delve into the impact of the NTP on the digital and entrepreneurship ecosystems. The forum will bring together stakeholders to share insights on smart transportation systems such as the Hyperloop One, building smarter cities, and technologies such as cybersecurity. To attend the Digital Transformation forum, register for ArabNet Riyadh here



Antoni Vives is the CEO of the City Transformation Agency and Ex-Deputy Mayor of Barcelona. During his mandate as Deputy Mayor of Urban Habitat for Barcelona City Council, Barcelona received numerous awards and was recognized as the number one smart city in the World by Juniper Research.


Ron van der Lans is Senior Program Manager, Strategic Alliances at Amsterdam Smart City. In six years, Amsterdam Smart City has grown into a platform with over 100 partners, which are involved in more than 90 innovative projects.


Colin Rhys is Creative Director at Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles-based startup working on an ultra-fast tube transportation system which has raised $245 million to date. It recently had its fastest test yet, nearly hitting 200 mph.


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